General SEO Glossary
There is a lot of jargon used in the SEO industry, as a new comer it could get a bit too much. Because of this I have compiled a comprehensive list of most of the terms used, this list will constantly be updated – I suggest bookmarking this page if you are new and may need to visit again. If you’re looking for a specific term, use the quick links to the right to jump to the correct location.
You may hear this term used a lot in context similar to ‘build authority backlinks’ in which case it basically means build quality links, not spammy links (see back links). If you hear it in a context similar to ‘build an authority site’ it means you should be an authority in a certain niche, and always write high quality content.
Backlinks are ‘hyperlinks’ from other websites that point towards your own. For example if I placed a hyperlink to your website, on this page it would be a ‘backlink’ to your website. Good SEO requires you to build lots of these as they basically count as a ‘vote’, the more people that link to your website the more votes you get. See more information about building backlinks here.
Black hat SEO is the practise of SEO in any way that doesn’t follow Google’s guidelines and in some cases can be on the verge of being illegal! Some tactics used by ‘black hatters’ are: Using automated systems to build backlinks, spamming websites and stuffing pages with keywords.
Black hatters are webmasters that take full advantage of black hat SEO.
Bots, Crawlers or Spiders
When you hear terms like this they are almost certainly referring to the ‘search engine bots’; search engine bots ‘crawl’ your website, saving all of the links and content within their servers (indexing them). This is how Google and the other search engines find pages on your website, they generally follow and index all the links on a page (unless they are tagged ‘nofollow’).
A canonical is a meta tag which is placed in the head section of a website, it allows the webmaster to say to the search engines ‘you should give credit to this page to page B’ – this is useful for blogs and other websites that have duplicate content due to pagination.
Cloaking is a term usually used when talking about links, some links can be ugly or you could want to hide the URL you are taking users to e.g. affiliate links. Cloaking them basically hides the destination URL with another, usually the domain you’re currently on.
Comment spam has been a problem for many years, most people who comment spam are doing it in an effort to build links since blogs usually allow you to submit a URL. The process involves visiting lots of blogs and commenting, in most cases comment spammers will write a comment totally unrelated to the post they are commenting on and will use automated software to do it.
Content or Copy
Content / copy is the text on a webpage – some SEO’s may say to you ‘you need more content to rank higher’ – which means you need more text on the page.
CPM stands for ‘Costs Per Thousand’, the ‘M’ stands for miles which is a Latin term for thousand. This term is usually used in paid advertising where you would sell / buy ad space on a ‘cost per thousand impressions’.
Click Through Rate (CTR) is measured as percentage and provides a reliable statistic to determine wether online advertising has been successful. It is worked out with the following equation:
Click through rate (CTR) = (Clicks / Impressions) x 100
Domain authority is a metric created by Moz, they use a very sophisticated algorithm to determine how authoritative a website is. This metric is very useful, especially when you’re looking to buy a website.
Duplicate content is content that is identical or very similar to other content found on the internet. It is important to ensure all or most of the content on your website is ‘unique’ rather than copied (duplicate) as search engines can and do penalise websites with too much copied content.
Followed links are backlinks or hyperlinks that are allowed to be followed by the search engines, these types of links can improve search engine rankings. Whereas no-followed links will not pass any PageRank, nor will they help you increase your search engine rankings.
Google AdWords is Google’s advertising network also known as Google PPC.
Google Analytics is a web statistics tool which can assist you in tracking what website visitors do when they come to your site, as well as showing you how they got to your site in the first place. You can see our Google Analytics Glossary here.
The Google Dance is when the Google search rankings heavily fluctuate until they finally fall into their rightful position. This used to be because Google didn’t update their rankings so often, but since Google started doing this on a regular basis the main cause of seeing this type of activity is due to webmasters using black hat methods.
Google Keyword Tool
The Google Keyword tool, which also gets called ‘Keyword Tool’ is a useful tool used by lots of webmasters which helps find additional keywords people are using to search Google. It is especially helpful because it also allows you to see how many people are using the terms, as well as their location.
HTML Title Tags
HTML title tags include <h1>, <h2> and <h3> html tags. Although there are more tags including <h4>, <h5> and <h6> generally the top three hold the most weight in SEO. Title tags are an important aspect of on page SEO and should always be optimised.
Keyword density referes to the amount of times a keyword is found on a page, for example: If your keyword is ‘red widgets’ and it is mentioned 12 times on a 800 word article your keyword density would be 1.5%.
Keyword research should be the starting point of any SEO campaign, the process involves taking a small group of keywords, and expanding that list into a larger list of words; at the same time obtaining the amount of people that use the terms to search on Google (or the other search engines).
Keyword stuffing is a common black hat tactic and involves placing and repeating keywords within a page on your website. Some people go as far as making the text colour the same colour as the background and repeating the words over and over at the bottom of the page.
Keywords are specific words or phrases that you target your pages toward. For example if you have a website about widgets you may have one page about ‘red widgets’, which targets the keyword ‘why red widgets’ – and then you may have a page regarding ‘yellow widgets’ targeting the keyword / phrase ‘yellow widgets are the best’.
Link bait is the process of creating high quality content, images, info graphics or toos / application in the aim to build links. The theory is, the better the content the more links it will gain.
A link farm is typically a group of websites that all link to each other, though some SEO’s regard low quality directories to also be link farms.
The term link juice was thought up by ‘Greg Boser’, you will usually hear this term in the following context: ‘Does this link pass link juice’ which means is the link ‘followed’ by Google, rather than tagged as no-follow. You could also hear it in the following context ‘This link will pass a lot of link juice’, which means the link will pass good link juice, usually because it is on a high PageRank page, or is an authority website. Links with high link juice usually have the potential to boost your rankings and PageRank higher.
Long Tail (keywords)
Long tail keywords are more descriptive keywords, for example: A normal keyword would be something like ‘car insurance’, the long tail variation would be ‘cheap car insurance for young drivers’.
Meta descriptions are in place to allow webmasters describe what is on the page to the search engines. Although they do not help boost search rankings, they are still used in the search result pages – they appear just below the title of a website / page in the listings.
No follow links are backlinks / inlinks / hyperlinks on websites that have been tagged with the following: ‘rel=”nofollow”’, this tells the search engines not to follow the link nor pass any PageRank to the desired location. They are typically used when you are linking to a website that you do not necessarily rate or vouch for.
Organic rankings are the search results that are NOT paid, i.e. the free listings.
Organic traffic is traffic to a website that has arrived via organic listings within the search engines. I.e. isn’t a social media or website referral, paid traffic or direct traffic.
Outbound links are links that are on your website, pointing to other websites online.
PageRank is Google’s way of measuring how authoritative a website is on a scale of 0 – 1 OR if you are using the Google Tool bar from 1 – 10.
SEM is an acronym for ‘Search Engine Marketing’, and in some cases is seen the same as SEO – however my views are that SEM is used more for paid advertising and SEO more for organic.
SEO is an acronym for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, it is a process webmasters and online marketers use to increase a websites rankings within a search engine.
SERPs is an acronym for ‘Search Engine Results Pages’, which is self-explanatory.